There’s often a gap between games for kids and games for adults. Games for kids feature fast play, colorful and simple mechanics, and a lot of luck. Games for adults are often complicated, have a lot to keep in your head while you play, and have strategy well beyond the basic mechanics of the game.
When your child is hungry for more than just Candyland, it’s tough to find games that you can play with them, ones that keep them engaged and entertained, but also start to encourage their strategic side. Most games do not cut the mustard here, and this can cause frustration all around. As much as I try not to, sometimes I commiserate with Louis CK’s take on Monopoly.
That’s where Foodfighters comes in.
At a glance:
Foodfighters is a duel between the Meat gang and the Vegetable army, a culinary fight-to-the-finish. Foods jockey for position, taking stabs at their particular nemeses, and only one team can be the victor.
Billed as a 2-player game for kids and adults, Foodfighters just launched on Kickstarter and a pledge of $29CAD or higher will get you a copy of the game. It comes with a 8+ age suggestion – my daughter had no trouble with the concepts at 11, and the designers tell me their six-year-old plays it with no problem. Younger kids may have to have some of the power cards explained to them.
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- 18 Fighters (9 cards for each team)
- 6 Power cards (3 for each team)
- 1 Price card
- 2 pans, 6 crackers, 4 spoons and 30 beans
- 2 ‘normal’ dice and 1 bonus die. Each die has one or two ‘splats’ and the other sides have between 1 and 3 beans
We played with a demo version of the game but if the quality of the demo is any indicator, the final product will be very palatable indeed.
The Fighter cards are thick and durable, each illustrated with a separate food and that food’s particular enemy. The power and price cards are playing-card thin but well designed and easy to read. All the other items are wood cut – easy to pick up and use and not fragile in the slightest, something I appreciate with my meaty fingers.
How to play:
There’s a free print and play version on the Kickstarter page if you want an appetizer.
The object of the game is to be the first to knock out three of your opponent’s matching cards. The Meat are represented by a steak, a chicken leg, and a piece of bacon; the Vegetables are an onion, a cabbage, and a stalk of broccoli. So if the Meat take out three cabbages, for instance, it’s game over for the photosynthetic side.
Each team is arranged in a 3×3 grid, dealt out randomly. Each card has only one type of opponent they can target and only if they are in reach either vertically or diagonally. In most cases the range is one spot but this can be upgraded.
On each player’s turn they can swap around the position of two of their Fighters (or move one to an empty gap in the same row), attack an opponent in range or roll the dice for some beans. Beans are the currency of the game, used to purchase tools for your Fighters as well as access your special powers.
“Beans are BOTH a vegetable AND a protein!” my daughter exclaimed. “They are on BOTH sides!” She claims she figured this out before me. We disagree on this point.
- Swapping is simple – any two Fighters anywhere on your side can shift places, or a Fighter can move to an empty spot on the same row. In both cases they can bring along any items they have. Swapping gets you a free bean as well.
- Attacking is done by rolling the ‘normal’ dice, with one or more ‘splats’ knocking out the opponent and letting you claim the card for your win pile. If you don’t get a ‘splat’ you get as many beans as are showing on the dice.
- If choose to roll for beans, you roll the dice and re-roll any splats. Collect the beans showing.
Once you’ve finished your action, you can then buy one item with your beans. Crackers let your Fighter take an extra hit, spoons let them hit targets further away (but still in a straight line) and pans let them attack any enemy in range.
You can also buy the bonus die, and use it on the next die roll you make for any reason. After the roll, it goes back in the kitchen to be purchased again. This makes it a delicious item to have ready.
You could also purchase and use one of your special powers. Each card is unique and has its own price. Each side has different powers, giving their abilities their own unique flavor. Some are one-use, some can be purchased and used over and over, and some stay active as long as the card is in play. They have simple mechanics but a seasoned player can find ways to use them to their advantage.
Once all this is done, the opponent must fill in any gaps in their line of scrimmage by bringing a Fighter forwards from the furthest back row with any Fighters left in it. Then it’s their turn at the buffet.
Let’s get to the meat of this: we loved it.
Digesting the rules didn’t take long at all and the setup is quick and easy. We tried to play on a coffee table and that wasn’t quite enough room for six rows of cards head-to-head. Be sure to give yourself a little space to lay out the battleground and prepare the ‘kitchen’ where all the purchasable items go.
Our first game was fast – a straight on a-salt. My opening random placement left me particularly vulnerable – my three steaks were right out in front, so I had to spend my first few rounds scrambling to shift them to safe places and load them with crackers while my daughter tried to tenderize them with a pan.
My coordinated use of a pan and a spoon took its toll on her veggie forces. I almost had her, but she had put out her Bean Boost! power early on and was clocking in two beans for every successful attack. She even used her one-use Re-grow! power to pull back one of her knocked-out Fighters to snatch the win from me.
The second game I played more defensively: I focused on putting crackers into play and using my Meat Shield! power to place two beans as bonus crackers to protect my key Fighters. She countered with multiple uses of the Bonus Die to chew down my defense and gain tons of beans. A judicious use of The Wurst! at the right time broke one of her crackers and let my chicken take her last cabbage with a spoon thrown from the back row.
Each game took no longer than 15 minutes and I predict future matches could be complete in under five.
Foodfighters is very well balanced for adults and kids. The strategic options are clear and simple but encourage creative uses to maximum their potential.
Originally I had thought that the power costs were too high, but they are meant to be that way, to keep the game focused on the direct play – when a power is used it is because that player starved to get it. And while no power is directly devastating, used in the right way at the right time, they can change the whole taste of the game.
Foodfighters is a great can-we-play-something game in the short time after homework is done and before bed, or between bouts of longer games on family game night.
Frankly, my only complaint is that the rules lack any food puns. I personally like to dish them out.
When I asked my daughter if she had an appetite to play again, she enthusiastically said, “Yes!” You can’t do much better than that.
Check it out for yourself on their Kickstarter page.
Disclosure: I received a prototype copy for review purposes.